Coast Guard

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The Coast Guard is housed in the Department of Homeland Security in times of peace (formerly it was housed in the Department of Transportation). It is governed by the Navy in times of war. Its peace time duties including enforcement of customs duties, anti-smuggling missions, rescue of distressed ships and boats at sea, and port security. It is the principal safety and law enforcement arm of the United States government in the navigable waters of the United States.

The Fleet

The Coast Guard operates ten classes of Cutters, from 87 feet to 378 feet in length for a total of 144 cutters. The largest is slightly smaller than a Navy Frigate.

The Coast Guard has 12 WMEC-378’ Hamilton class cutters, its largest cutter, commissioned in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is 3,250 tons, 378 feet long, has a 43 foot beam and a 19’9” draft. It has a range of 14,000 Nautical Miles at 12 knots and a top speed of about 29 knots. It has a crew of 19 officers and 148 enlisted sailors. It has both diesel and gas turbine engines. It carries one helicopter and two small boats. The Helicopter is either a HH65 Dolphin or a LAMPS MKI (SH-2). It carries a 30 knot rigid inflatable boat, and a 12 knot motor surf boat. It is armed with a 3” Naval gun, 2 25mm machine guns, a Phalanx Close In Weapons System, 2 .50 caliber machine guns and 12 chaff launchers.

The Coast Guard has 1 WMEC-282’ Alex Haley class cutter based in Kodiak, Alaska, re-commissioned after a prior recovery tug role in 1999 and initially commissioned in 1977. It performs search and rescue and fisheries law enforcement missions. It is 3,496 tons, has diesel engines, is 283 feet long, has a 50 foot beam and a 17 foot draft. It has a crew of ten officers and 96 enlisted men.

The Coast Guard has 12 WMEC-270’ Famous class medium endurance cutters in service, with the first entering service in 1983. Each is 1,780 tons, has diesel engines, is 270 feet long, has a 38 foot beam and a 14 foot draft. It has a 10,250 mile range and a 20 knot top speed. It has a crew of 14 officers and 86 enlisted men. It has a 3” Naval gun, two .50 caliber machine guns and 2 chaff launchers. It carries one helicopter (an HH-65A, an SH-2 LAMPS I or an HH-60J, and two boats, a 26 foot motor surf boat and a 6 meter rigid hull inflatable.

The Coast Guard has 1 WMEC-230’ Storis class medium endurance cutter based in Kodiak, Alaska, which is the oldest cutter in service entering service in 1942. It is 1916 tons, has diesel engines, is 230 feet long, has a 43 foot beam and a 15 foot draft. The crew is 10 officers and 96 enlisted. It has a range of 22,000 n miles at 8 knots and a top speed of 14 knots. It has a 25 mm machine gun, two .50 caliber machine guns and two M60 7.62 mm Machine Guns.

The Coast Guard has 1 WMEC-213’ Diver class cutter based in Ketchikan, Alaska commissioned in 1944. It is 1746 tons, has diesel engines, is 213’6” long, has a 39 foot beam and a 14’4” draft. The crew consists of 7 officers and 65 enlisted men. It has a range of 13,700 miles and a top speed of 15.5 knots. It has 4 40mm machine guns and 4 .50 caliber machine guns.

The Coast Guard has 16 WMEC-210 Reliance class cutters. It is 947-1000 tons, has diesel engines, is 210 feet long, has a 34 foot beam and an 11’6” draft. The crew consists of 12 officers and 63 enlisted. It has a top speed of 18 knots and a range of 6,100 miles. It has one HH-65A helicopter. It has one 25mm machine gun and 2 .50 caliber machine guns. Most were commissioned in the 1960s.

The Coast Guard has 1 WPB-123’ Patrol Boats, part of the Deep Water project, with seven more scheduled to go into service by the end of 2005. Each is 170-175 tons, 123 feet long, has a 23 foot beam and a 7’4” draft. The top speed is 28 knots and the crew is 2 officers and 14 enlisted men. The range is 3180-3300 miles. It has one 25 mm machine gun, 2 .50 caliber machine guns, and 2 M60 7.62 mm machine guns.

The Coast Guard has 49 WPB-110’ Island class patrol boats commissioned between 1985 and 1992.

The Coast Guard has 49 WPB-87’ Marine Protector class patrol boats in service. The first was delivered in 1998, and more deliveries are scheduled through 2005.

The Coast Guard has 2 WPB 82’ Point class patrol boats in service. They will be removed from service when the last replacement Marine Protector class patrol boats are brought on line in 2005.

The Coast Guard also operates 211 aircraft (the C-130 and a smaller fixed wing aircraft, plus three kinds of helicopters), and a number of smaller boats.

Proposed New Craft

The Coast Guard has a “Deepwater” program under way, designed to replace its cutters with three different classes of new cutters, a national security cutter (a successor to the Hamilton class), an offshore patrol cutter (a successor to the Famous and Reliance class) and a fast response cutter (a successor to the Island class). The Coast Guard is also investigating jointly with the Navy a Littoral Surface Craft (LSC) called the "Sea Fighter."

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